Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday officially commissioned the Chinese-built Nairobi Expressway, describing it as an “iconic motorway” that will serve Kenyans beyond just easing traffic in the capital city.
Kenyatta was accompanied to the launch by a high-level delegation as well as Chinese officials, all of whom hailed the road.
“The Nairobi Expressway has been opened for trials and it has already proved its worth. It has ushered in an era of reduced travel time and increased mobility and an era of reduced congestion and enhanced productivity,” said Kenyatta.
“The expressway lays open a better business environment for our country, which means more opportunities for our nation in tourism, in conferencing, in manufacturing, in hospitality, sectors that employ more than three million Kenyans directly and another six million indirectly,” he added.
The 27.1-kilometer mostly elevated road links Kenya’s main airport, the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, in the eastern side of the capital to the Nairobi-Nakuru highway in the west.
The Nairobi Expressway was financed and built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), and the Chinese firm will operate the highway as a toll road under a public-private partnership.
The elevated dual carriageway has been hailed as a big solution to Nairobi’s traffic congestion. Nairobi struggled with traffic gridlock on a daily basis with motorists often spending many hours on the roads each day.
“With the addition of this iconic motorway to the landscape of our capital city Nairobi, our city of Nairobi now acquires not just a new suspended highway but one whose design is bold and distinctive, inking a new chapter in our infrastructural development as a country,” said Kenyatta.
The Kenyan President also took the opportunity to hail the impact of China-Kenya relations on the East African country, especially on its development agenda.
He noted that the successful construction of the road was a testament of the possibilities that lie in public-private partnerships.
“I will be amiss if I don’t also take this opportunity to thank the government and the people of the Republic of China for the confidence that they have shown in our country Kenya. Without their confidence in our country, the private would not have invested in our country,” said Kenyatta.
Chinese Ambassador to Kenya Zhou Pingjian reiterated the strong China-Kenya relations which he said had borne development fruits.
“On the occasion of the official commissioning of the Nairobi Expressway, a new landmark to the friendship between our two countries and peoples,” said Zhou. “I wish to warmly congratulate President Kenyatta, the government and the people of Kenya for making steady, sustainable and significant progress in every undertaking for national development.”
The expressway is one of many Chinese-built infrastructural projects in Kenya.
Other notable projects include a 480-kilometer Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) linking the port city of Mombasa to Nairobi, and an ongoing construction of the 336 million U.S. dollar offshore Kipevu Oil Terminal, the largest of its kind in Africa.